January in the Garden

Happy New Year to you all from everyone at Floral & Hardy!

I think everyone in the country has had some pretty severe weather in the last few weeks, but don’t worry, the garden will come through it – that’s nature for you!

We can soon look forward to longer days and the growing season ahead, however, in the meantime many of the plants mentioned in my December blog will still be in flower now and many others will also provide interest through their bark, their foliage, or their structural form.

Floral & Hardy’s Top Ten Plants for January:

image of Asplenium scolopendrium  -   Hart’s Tongue Fern

Asplenium scolopendrium  – 

Hart’s Tongue Fern – an evergreen fern with distinctive glossy green, wavy-edged, strap-like leaves – easy to grow even in dry shade.

image of Buxus sempervirens –   Box

Buxus sempervirens – 

Box – this is a small leaved evergreen that can easily be clipped into living sculptures, and we have probably all seen topiary varying from peacocks to dinosaurs to trains at one stately home or another, but there is no reason why a more modest spiral or sphere or two should not grace our own, more modest plots. Whatever shape you choose, topiary is particularly effective as a focal point in the winter garden. 

image of Cornus alba -   Dogwood

Cornus alba – 

Dogwood – a medium sized shrub whose vivid red, orange, yellow or purple stems in winter really stand out amongst other planting. In summer it has green leaves, sometimes margined with white or cream and white flowers in June followed by white tinged blue berries in autumn. 

image of Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ –   Contorted Hazel

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ – 

Contorted Hazel – a large shrub or small tree with pale yellow catkins in February and rounded green leaves turning yellow in autumn. But it is in winter, when its curious twisted shoots are more visible, that it really comes into its own. 

image of Euonymus fortunei ‘Blondy’ –   Spindle

Euonymus fortunei ‘Blondy’ – 

Spindle – one of a range of varieties of useful evergreen shrubs, this one is bushy and low-growing with really striking dark green foliage splashed with vibrant yellow – guaranteed to brighten up the dullest winter day!

image of Jasminum nudiflorum –   Winter Jasmine

Jasminum nudiflorum – 

Winter Jasmine – although not fragranced like its summer flowering cousin, the cheerfulness of this spreading shrub’s brilliant yellow flowers more than makes up for this, making it a justifiable favourite in many gardens.

image of Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Arrow’ –   Blue Arrow Juniper

Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Arrow’ – 

Blue Arrow Juniper – an evergreen conifer with vivid blue-grey foliage whose extremely narrow columnar habit makes an excellent punctuation mark in the border at all times of year.

image of Phormium –   New Zealand Flax

Phormium – 

New Zealand Flax – a bold, structural plant with sword-shaped, evergreen leaves, often striped in colours varying from green and gold to pink and purple. A useful plant, at home both in contemporary and traditional schemes.

image of Phyllostachys nigra –   Black Bamboo

Phyllostachys nigra – 

Black Bamboo – a non-invasive bamboo with conspicuous black stems that really stand out in a contemporary scheme, particularly if grown against white walls – and you get the lovely, soothing sound when breezes ruffle through the leaves in summer.

image of Rubus thibetanus –   Ghost Bramble

Rubus thibetanus – 

Ghost Bramble – this large, open shrub gets its common name from its wonderful arching, white, prickly winter stems looking good in association with many other plants, particularly the Cornus above. In summer it has ferny, grey-green leaves with white undersides and pink flowers. 

January Tips and Advice

1. If the ground’s not too hard or wet, borders can still be dug over this month in preparation for spring planting. Clay soils can be improved by adding plenty of grit, old potting compost if you have it, or well-rotted leaf mould.

2. If possible, try to stay off existing lawns when it’s frosty.

3. New turf can be laid as long as the ground isn’t frosty.

4. Carefully brush off  worm casts from existing lawns to prevent bare patches later on.

5. Bare rooted trees and hedging can still be planted this month.

6. Check on tree ties to make sure they’re secure against winter winds.

7. If you get more snow, make sure you carefully brush it off shrubs and hedges to prevent damage.

8. If you’ve got a greenhouse, make sure you ventilate it whenever possible and water plants only when absolutely necessary to prevent rotting.

9. If you’ve left a pump submerged in a water feature, continue to run it for a few minutes at a time every week or two. Remember to maintain an ice-free patch in ponds both to protect the fish if you have them, and to prevent cracking in the pond liner.

10. Finally, the exciting task of sowing seeds indoors can start this month. Many shrubs, climbers, perennials, annuals and vegetables can be sown now – just follow the instructions on the packet and stock your garden for a fraction of the cost of buying plants fully grown from the garden centre! Just remember though you will need somewhere protected to keep the little chaps until all risk of frost has passed.

By Helen Ellison

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